Fusion Designs Gallery, Brooklyn

Every retail environment is a clear statement of the sensibility and style of the owners and at Fusion Designs Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, this is certainly true.  The owners, Greg Schmitz and Lee Dillon, have created an airy, light, well-edited space that features artwork by Lee Dillon as well as Lee’s incredibly talented parents.  Visitors to their store-cum-gallery can indulge in this serene environment and enjoy the art and design that speaks for itself against the spare white walls.  We recently asked Greg about their success with the opening of their store/gallery and what tips they can offer others in retail.

1. How long have you and your partner, Lee Dillon, had your gallery/store? What prompted you to open it?

Lee and I started our small design firm in the Spring of 2001 breaking into the Stationery Industry. We were working out of a fourth floor walk up in Brooklyn. As the demand for our product line grew, we needed to find a ground floor space for logistic purposes including housing our inventory. Fortunately, our commercial space in the building became available and we decided to go for it. With the space we had, we decided not only to use it for distribution but for a retail store front and a gallery featuring Lee’s  and his parents’,  Caldecott winners Leo and Diane Dillons, original art. We have been open for nearly two years

2. Your space in Brooklyn is characterized by clean white walls, simple, linear fixtures, and lots of light. The gallery is always tastefully edited, never feeling overcrowded or stuffed with product. Can you describe your merchandising strategy? How does this clean, airy aesthetic affect the way customers view and purchase your products?

Lee and I have always felt that less is more. With that in mind, we designed the gallery according to our own aesthetic to highlight the artwork and product assortment. We went with all Atrium White throughout the space and chose and/or built clean fixtures to exhibit the product and and also hide the cash wrap equipment. We merchandise our retail product including our stationery and jewelry on one side of the space and the original art on the other. This simple strategy makes it easy for our clients to focus.

3. The gallery exhibits original pieces by your partner Lee Dillon, but you also sell stationery and gift items designed with his artwork. How does this affect the demographics of your customer base? Are most of your customers art buyers who happen to pick up stationery when they visit, or are there people who come to you specifically for cards and other gifts?

Our gallery has really become a destination for our unique stationery and jewelry pieces. We have kept our price points very reasonable so they are accessible to everyone with a discerning eye. Many of our designs are based on the original art which can run anywhere between $400 and up to $30,000. We feel everyone should be able to have the opportunity to appreciate art. If they are unable to bring home one of the originals, they can walk away with an affordable card or piece of jewelry designed by the artists. We also have opening parties for our client base when we switch out new shows.

4. You’re located in the beautiful neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Do you believe this presents any unique challenges or benefits over other locations in New York City and the country? Has the neighborhood changed since you first opened your doors, and if so, has it affected the way you market yourself to the community?

Our neighborhood is fantastic! Our customers are very loyal and like to shop locally at many of the independently owned boutiques and specialty markets. We are very close to the City and many of our shoppers work there but live here and like the cozy feeling of the neighborhood. The area is constantly changing. We have a fabulous new park that opened down the block which has really increased traffic.

5. I understand you live above the gallery! What are the pluses and minuses to that? And would you do it all over again if you had the choice?

Living above the gallery makes for a VERY easy commute. However, because I am so close, I end up being there all the time (even on days off) because there is always something to do. Opening the gallery is one of the best things we have ever done and I love being around people. I would definitely do this again. Maybe we could have a satellite gallery in Italy someday!

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One Response to “Fusion Designs Gallery, Brooklyn”

  1. JoAnn Boraas says:

    Do you have access to Wooster & Prince desk calendars for 2011? I bought one last year and love it. Can’t find them anywhere. Thanks.

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